Posted on 17 Mar 2016

Are We Trained to Reward Ourselves Negatively?

There is a lot of trainers and fitness Gurus out there who rant and rave about losing weight is simple, just eat less and exercise more. Well, technically it is that simple, but is it that easy? Well no, like many good mentors I follow strongly the theory that with any goal, 80% is the psychology and 20% is the mechanics (the doing bit).

We all have our own personal reward systems that have turned into bad habits, either chocolate, wine, crisps, sweets we find so hard to break or give up. But why? Well, I believe that many of our bad habits have been conditioned to have from early childhood and society. Many of us know the study of Ivan Pavlov and his famous dogs. Where each day he would ring a bell before they were given food. After a while they began to associate the bell with food so on the final experiments when the bell was wrong the dogs began to salivate even when food wasn't present.

I feel very strongly that we are now conditioned through society to have a negative reward relationship with food. When you were young if you did something good, many of us were rewarded with a treat, some sweets or chocolate. I always remember after swimming I would come out to the lobby and there was a vending machine. My mum would let us choose one sweet as a reward for doing so well. During school term if we got good grades we would go to a fast food joint where we would have a kids meal with a toy. For our birthdays, we would have a party with cake, crisps, all the usual naughty things. This kind of reward system continues into your adulthood, with regards to alcohol at weddings, hitting work targets, Christmas parties etc.During all these times we are at our happiest and with close friends and family, our emotions are all positive and we start to associate these emotions with the food.

But what happens when I'm stressed or feeling down or low? I don't like or want these emotions so we try to change them. Now I cant just make a bad work day better or have a party or get all my friends and loved ones around me. But what I can do is recreate some of those feelings and memories through the food, smells and tastes that I experienced at those happy times. Now like with all learned behaviours they can be unlearned and altered if we now the route of why the behaviour is there.

Special blog post editorial from one of our FitFarms Health and Fitness instructors.

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